Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,023 / Mudd

Posted by Gaufrid on March 12th, 2009


It has been some time since I have had quite as many quibbles about clues in an FT crossword. These made the solving process, for me at least, somewhat protracted and, in places, difficult. There were several questionable parts of clues, as indicated below, and one definition (23a) is simply wrong. Having said that, there were some enjoyable clues as well. I particularly liked 5d and 7d.
1 ROOM AT THE TOP  MATTHE[w] (apostle endlessly) in ROOT (source) OP (work)
8 SET FAIR  SET (prepared) FAIR (just)
11 ORIFICE  OR (a precious thing) IF ICE (Arctic seals under it) – I am not particularly happy at having ‘or’ defined as ‘a precious thing’. Collins only lists it as an adjective (of the metal gold) and COED indicates it is a colour used in heraldry (gold or yellow) though it can just about be justified in Chambers if one uses one of the less common definitions of ‘tincture’.
12 REIFIED  DEIFIER (godmaker) reversed – the word ‘godmaker’ does not appear in any of the standard references.
13 DRAFT  [toddle]R in DAFT (potty) – ‘bottom of’ to indicate the last letter of a word might have worked had this been a down clue.
14 EMMENTHAL  *(MAN HELMET) – many things have holes so is it fair to use ‘which contains holes’ as the definition for a cheese?
16 SUBEDITOR  BED (bottom) in SUITOR (lover) – does the subeditor write the headlines?
19 CACAO  CA CA (twice state) O (love)
21 OFFLOAD  OFF (abroad) LOAD (a lot) – does ‘abroad’ equate to ‘off’ and surely ‘a lot’ would be ‘loads’?
23 AQUATIC  AT in A QUIC[k] (tailless swift) – ‘aquatic’ does not mean ‘water’! Edit: Thanks Paul B for pointing out my error (see comment #1)
24 DIALECT  DIAL (face) *(ETC)
25 INSTALL  INST (this month) ALL (everyone)

1 RETSINA  [c]ANISTER (container topped) reversed
2 ON A DIET  *(IDEA NOT) – is ‘supposed’ meant to be the anagram indicator or is it part of the definition and there is no anagram indicator? If the former then it doesn’t work for me.
3 AGREEMENT  men (PEOPLE) IN a GREET (welcome)
4 TAPIR  RIP AT (tear off towards) reversed
6 OSTRICH  [p]OST (pale concealing head) RICH (deep)
10 RED BLOOD CELL  RED (wine) BLOOD (extraction) CELL homophone of ‘sell’ (trade)
15 MARGARINE  [la]R[ge] RAG (newspaper) reversed in MAINE (state)
17 BUFFALO  dd
18 DIOCESE  *(CODE IS) E[nemy]
19 CRUISER  dd
20 CUTLASS  CUT (slash) LASS (miss)
22 DOTTY  dd – ‘imbalanced’ does not mean ‘dotty’, it should have been ‘unbalanced’.

13 Responses to “Financial Times 13,023 / Mudd”

  1. Paul B says:

    I see your point about 23ac, but as so often there’s a way – however dubious – to parse it, since a ‘water’ bird is an ‘aquatic’ bird: in these nouns are not the two interchangeable?

  2. C.G. Rishikesh says:


    Re 16a: A subeditor indeed writes headlines just as he/she might write picture captions etc. (at least in Indian newspaper offices: I don’t know what practices exist in the UK).

    Of course, the headlines written by a subeditor might be accepted as they are or they might be revised by the chief subeditor. That’s a different issue altogether.

    In Indian newspapers headline writing is not left to anyone known as layout editor or some such personage at the latter stages in production. Any item edited by a subeditor must have a headline.

  3. Gaufrid says:

    Paul B
    You are indeed right. At the time of solving/blogging I did not think of the adjectival sense of ‘water’. My error! I will amend the blog accordingly.

  4. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Again re 16a:
    A typo needs to be fixed. SUITOR for suiter.

  5. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Rishi
    Thanks for the info as I am not familiar with regard to who does what in journalism. My question was partly rhetorical and partly because I was wondering if the definition was fair. I am sure that others besides a subeditor must write headlines and a subeditor must do other things besides writing them.

    Thanks also for notifying me about the typo.

  6. Colin Blackburn says:

    The subeditor does various jobs including correcting the work of the journalist and editing a piece for length. Writing the headlines (and captions) is a main part of their brief. Traditionally all headlines are written by the subs and not the journalists. As Rishi says the headlines may be changed later by higher powers.

  7. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks for the further elucidation Colin. I learn something new every day.

  8. Will says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle. I thought 12 across was clever – if my crossword setters are not to be Ximenean, I’d much rather they do this than (for example) use ‘first class’ to mean C. I think ‘supposed’ as an anagram indicator is a little weak, though.

    Isn’t Mudd Paul? If so, two in one day.

  9. Agentzero says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. Can you help me understand the definition in 8ac (SET FAIR = “highly-pressurised reading”)?

  10. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Will
    Yes, Mudd and Paul are one and the same.

    Hi Agentzero
    When there is high atmospheric pressure the weather is likely to be fine and sunny or ‘set fair’ (probably not a common expression these days but certainly one I remember from my younger days).

  11. Agentzero says:

    Ah, thanks, Gaufrid. A new phrase to me.

  12. Eileen says:

    When I was a child, everyone seemed to have a barometer in their hall, so I very early learned ‘set fair’, which was one of the settings.

    ‘Takes’ in 14ac puzzles me, as it interrupts the anagram material. From the wordplay, I would expect it to be MAN + an anagram of ‘helmet’.

  13. Jake says:

    An odd puzzle -for me. But enjoyable, a few toughies, but, none that could’nt be figurered.

    Thanks Mudd.


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